International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

A Behavioral Analysis of Literature: The Trans-generational Verbal Community in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!
Kempton B. Van Hoff

Abstract
This article is part of an endeavor to bring the philosophy of the scientific study of human behavior and the analysis of literature together in a cohesive manner that demonstrates their compatibility. It uses B.F. Skinner’s work in Verbal Behavior as a tool for the analysis of William Faulkner’s novel Absalom, Absalom! Wherever possible, given the parameters of the study, a thoroughgoing analysis of the text is given. Passages of text are reproduced in the article, and the subsequent analyses take into account the author’s textual behavior and, more significantly, the written behavior of characters on both overt and covert levels. What is achieved is a multi-level analysis of the novel as a piece of static behavioral data, as well as a demonstration of the utility of behaviorism in application to literature.

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